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Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) -

Canadian Health Minister Addresses Ageism, Aging and HIV at AIDS 2016 Satellite Session in Durban, South Africa

Toronto, Ontario, July 20, 2016 - Earlier today, at AIDS 2016, The International AIDS Conference, in Durban, South Africa, The Honourable Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P., Minister of Health, Government of Canada, spoke at the Ageism, Aging and HIV: A Call to Action satellite session organized by the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) and the AIDS Community Research Initiative of America (ACRIA). The first in a group of esteemed speakers from the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Hungary, and Japan, Minister Philpott shared some of Canada's noteworthy responses to HIV and aging with the world:

“Addressing HIV among older persons has the potential to begin a new way of discussing aging on the whole!”

Before ambitious UNAIDS treatment targets enable us to successfully end the AIDS epidemic worldwide, we can anticipate a decades-long swell in the number of people living into old age with HIV. At the same time, as we strive to make viral suppression a reality for the majority of people living with HIV globally, it is critical that we consider the post-treatment needs of millions of people who will live long-term, and reach their golden years, with HIV. In response to these demographic changes, a shift in the way we do HIV prevention, care, treatment and support for HIV is required. Conservative estimates peg the number of people living with HIV in Canada today who are over the age of 50 at over 20,000, and that number is growing.

As access to ARV treatment increases around the world, HIV and aging is emerging as a global issue, presenting an opportunity for countries to share wise practices designed to both address ageism within the HIV movement, and tackle HIV-stigma within the aging sector, while fostering effective program and policy responses that support a burgeoning population of older adults living with HIV worldwide. The Ageism, Aging and HIV: A Call to Action satellite session brought together experts and policy makers to examine and identify action steps for better treatment of people living and aging with HIV.

Satellite presenters highlighted accomplishments, but they also acknowledged gaps in the global response to HIV and aging. New HIV infections among older adults are more likely to be diagnosed late, resulting in unnecessary illness, disability and death. Once diagnosed, older adults tend to be highly engaged in care and adherent to treatment, but very few health and social services are currently set up to address their unique needs. On account of HIV, medication and comorbidity, people living with HIV carry a heavier burden of disease than their HIV-negative peers across the life course, and may require unique care and support which is not always available. Those who have been living with HIV long-term have often accrued illnesses and experienced erosion of protective social factors leaving them especially vulnerable. Ambiguity abounds when it comes to the needs of the first generation to age with HIV, making resource and support planning difficult.

Background facts and figures from around the world:

  • Globally, HIV monitoring systems tend to exclude people over age 50, especially older women.
  • There are about 4.2 million older adults living with HIV worldwide, 2.5 million of whom are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Equitable access to treatment and care, polypharmacy (simultaneous use of multiple drugs to treat one or more conditions) and multi-morbidity (co-occurrence of two or more chronic medical conditions) are significant medical issues for people aging with HIV.
  • Stigma (including ageism, HIV-stigma, homophobia, transphobia and racism), exclusion from the labour force, employment years lost due to illness, income insecurity, and a host of other social factors negatively impact the lives of people growing older with HIV around the world.

About the Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation The Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR) is a national charitable organization that promotes innovation and excellence in rehabilitation in the context of HIV. CWGHR is multi-sector and multi-disciplinary in its membership and its activities.

CWGHR bridges the traditionally separate worlds of HIV, disability and rehabilitation. CWGHR members include people living with HIV, community-based HIV and disability organizations, health professionals, educators, and researchers, privates businesses and the employment sector; all of whom have an important role in a comprehensive response to rehabilitation in the lives of people living with HIV.


Contact for media interviews and more information on this release:

Ms. Tammy C. Yates

Executive Director

Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR)


Ms. Kate Murzin

Health Programs Specialist (HIV and aging Lead)

Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation (CWGHR)


[JL1] Quotations will be added later, after the event

[JL2] [JL2] Quotations will be added later, after the event

"Reproduced with permission - Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation "

Canadian Working Group on HIV and Rehabilitation

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